I have a number of Clematis in my yard and they are all the type that bloom...

Asked December 5, 2013, 1:16 PM EST

I have a number of Clematis in my yard and they are all the type that bloom on new growth. Two of them are on the south side of my white house and I do not know when it is safe to prune them back. Supposedly I should wait till March but last year one of them had buds by then and after pruning back, it did not really bloom much. I would like to prune much earlier but do not want to encourage new growth before we have very cold weather. Right now most of the leaves are brown but not all and it is very thick and lush. Any suggestions?

Talbot County Maryland flowers vines clematis pruning

1 Response

There are three types of clematis, and which one you have determines the timing of pruning. Any chance you know what named cultivars you have?
Basically, Group 1 has small flattish single blooms in late spring to early summer or the previous seasons growth, and only need to be pruned when overgrown. If they are overgrown, they are pruned just after flowering.
Group 2 are large flowered deciduous hybridscan have 2 flushes of flowers in early summer on previous years wood, than in late summer on new growth, so if you prune it carefully, your get a long season of flowers. The timing is late winter/early spring. You can stagger the cuts so the flowers cover more of the plants.
Group 3: flower in late summer on growth made during that season.They push out new growth from the base each year and flower at about 8 feet. If not pruned back hard, they will still grow tall and the flowers will only be way up at the top. These can be cut back hard to strong pairs of buds, about 6-12 inches above the ground, and again the timing is late winter/early spring.
You could try pruning in Feb. this year... it really all depends how harsh a winter we have as far as how early new growth comes. It's o.k to cut off some new growth, but we understand your hesitancy to do so.
Culturally speaking, clematis like to have their vines (leaves) in the sun but their roots in the shade. They also can benefit from a mulch of manure in the fall/winter, and when you cut them back in the spring, try gently working some bone meal in around the base of the plant for a slow fertilization.